Investments in our education will pay dividends for years to come

By ROMAN WITUCKI, chairman, Morrison County DFL

Another school year is about to start, and thanks to the work of Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL legislators, our school districts will have additional resources to help our children succeed.

During an election year, everyone talks a good talk about how they support students, teachers and families. When it comes time to walk the walk, we see who is truly committed.

At the beginning of the 2015 Legislative Session, even with a $1.9 billion budget surplus, the House Republican Caucus proposed increasing E-12 education funding by less than 1 percent. For years, Minnesota has been known for its quality education system, yet the Republicans thought that tax giveaways for big corporations and owners of Twin Cities sky scrapers was more important than investing in our state’s long-term prosperity. In other words they were more interested in ensuring corporations had more money for their stockholders than our schools had money to educate students.

All session long, Dayton and DFL legislators advocated for additional funding for education. They knew investing the budget surplus in our students would pay dividends for years to come and should take priority over tax giveaways for a few.

The Republicans dug their heels in and the Legislature was forced into overtime. Dayton and DFL legislators knew that providing funding for our schools, so they didn’t have to make cuts that would diminish the quality of our children’s education, was worth the wait.

The final education funding agreement invested in early learning, K-12 schools and American Indian students and English language learners.

An additional $48 million was invested in early learning scholarships to allow low-income families in all Minnesota counties access to high-quality early education and care. The Legislature also expanded access to Head Start. This program promotes school readiness for low-income children by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional developments.

In the area of K-12 education, every school district in the state will receive additional funding. Funds were also allocated for the Minnesota Reading Corps to connect trained tutors with children who are struggling to read. Many schools are aging, so the Legislature decided to invest more than $30 million for school districts to do important maintenance to classrooms and other district buildings.

The education funding bill provides resources to help schools who serve American Indian stu-

dents to develop plans to increase achievement and decrease dropout rates. According to Dayton, this historic investment will benefit more than 19,000 American Indian students across Minnesota.

Currently there are almost 70,000 students in Minnesota for whom English is not their first language. Dayton and DFL legislators extended the years of service students can receive support to help them to succeed in school and in life. They are very important to Minnesota’s workforce and future success.

I want to extend appreciation to all of our schools’ staff for the work they do to provide our children a quality education. Again we are so lucky to live in Minnesota where education is a top priority to so many people. Here’s to a safe and successful 2015-16 school year.

Roman Witucki, a resident of Little Falls, is chairman of the Morrison County DFL.


Filed under: DFL News, Education and Youth News, Iron Range / Northern Minnesota Area News, Legislative News, Metro Area News, Southeastern Area News, Southwestern Area News